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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Talking to the wall : subtitle public input into the wording of the British Columbia treaty referendum questions Rickey, Pamela Mary


"Public input" is an imprecise concept. However, purportedly "public input" exercises can be evaluated by posing Guido H. Stempel Ill's question: "WHO says WHAT to WHOM with WHAT EFFECT?" This thesis applies Stempel's question to British Columbia's 2001public hearings preceding the referendum on Aboriginal treaty negotiations. It asks "Who said what at the hearings?" and "To what extent were the views expressed at the hearings reflected in the Select Standing Committee's report and in the actual ballot used in the referendum?" A content analysis approach is used. To determine who spoke, presenters are identified first as Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, then, more specifically, as average individuals, individuals with treaty experience, or members of certain types of organizations. The main issues brought up by the presenters are summarized in tables showing numbers and percentages of presenters in various categories bringing up those issues. An expectation is formed as to what an observer at the hearings would expect to read in the Committee's report and to see on the referendum ballot. The study concludes that the Committee's report reflected most of the presenters' views, including important areas of agreement, in its recommendations. The Committee did fail to report that the most frequently raised theme was that the referendum should not be held. Also, the ballot it proposed would not have provided voters meaningful input on points of dissention raised at the hearings. The actual ballot used in the referendum and the referendum process failed to express points of agreement identified at the hearings, ignored some issues and raised other issues in a manner antagonistic to Aboriginal perspectives. "Public input" had virtually no effect on the final government decision regarding the referendum itself or on the principles which would guide future treaty negotiations.

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